Posts Tagged ‘Stephanie Jane Carter’

Recipe: Watermelon Rum Punch

September 20, 2010

Stephanie Jane Carter

The blue, dented pick-up truck that parks in the shade of the oak trees on Carollton Avenue is the kind of vehicle that makes me smile.  With a hand-painted sign announcing its wares, watermelons filled the bed of the truck this week.  While the weather has started to give us a break, it is still hot in New Orleans and watermelons are still the answer for a couple more weeks.  Here is a cocktail to celebrate the end of summer.

photo by Stephanie Jane Carter

Watermelon Rum Punch

Makes one cocktail

1 cup red seedless watermelon, cubed

2 ounces white rum

1 tablespoon agave nectar

juice of 1 and a half limes (about 3 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon chopped mint

crushed ice

Chile Lime Salt (optional)

Combine the cubed watermelon, rum, agave nectar, and lime juice in a blender (or in a bowl if using an emmersion blender).  Puree until the mixture is smooth.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer.  Set aside.  If desired, coat the lip of a glass with the chile lime salt by rubbing the lip with a damp towel and dipping the lip into the salt.  Fill the glass with ice.  Add watermelon mixture and chopped mint.  Stir well.


Tethered Knives and the Joys of Menu-Collecting

August 6, 2010

photo courtesy of One Flew South

by Stephanie Jane Carter

After settling on the Cole Porter: Day as the perfect layover libation, I grasped the menu for One Flew South and asked, “May I keep it?”  A few things happened in between and then the manager was suggesting to that the bartender show me his knife, which turned out to be tethered to the bar by a rope that I only imagined people would use if they weren’t kidding around.

One Flew South is a restaurant in the Atlanta Airport that is worth a long layover, and I used my dining time to expand the menu collection at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans.  Formally known as the Menu Project, it is quickly becoming recognized as the only large-scale collection like this.  The collection comprises menus from all over the American South (the Chinese delivery place down the street, the menus you collected on your honeymoon to Charleston in the 1950s, the restaurants in the Atlanta Airport, famous and not famous restaurants, restaurants that still exist and those that do not, and…).  Additionally, the collection comprises those restaurants outside of the American South that purport to be Southern.  For example, visiting Rochester, New York, I found a Louisiana-inspired menu that had to substitute available ingredients for those commonly used in common Louisiana dishes such as gumbo.  A “gumbo” of clams and Chorizo over “Southwestern rice” is one example.   The Southern Food and Beverage Museum encourages  everyone (yes, you)  to collect menus for the project.

The Menu Project preserves ephemeral items that reflect trends in food, beverage, culture, language, and many other topics.  A World War II era menu from Galatoire’s Restaurant in New Orleans reminds us of rationing during that era – the menu reminds guests that they may only have one pat of butter for their entire meal.  If you’ve been to this restaurant, you will most likely find this rule inconceivable.  One pat of butter at Galatoire’s?  Chills… Another particularly old Galatoire’s menu betrays secrets, but not too many,  of a society that met there.  The menu was obviously created especially for what it clearly states as “secret sessions.”  There are enigmatic rules, such as “Particularly short men should open a window.”  Language on these older menus was much more formal than newer ones.

Newer menus reveal a trend toward using  nouns like parsley and rosemary  as verbs  (they are NOT) .  For example, “parsleyed potatoes” and “rosemaried lamb.”  How does one rosemary a lamb?  We can also see that the trend never extended to certain herbs – thymed soup just never happened.  In addition to more relaxed language, the menus demonstrate a changing aesthetic, advances in technology, shifts in populations, and so many other important topics.

Besides that, participating in the Menu Project can be fun.  Usually people are excited to share their restaurant’s menu once they know about the Menu Project.  Sometimes, they will display the kind of enthusiasm I encountered at One Flew South, eagerly sharing  details about the restaurant, the little things that no one else knows, and the things they are particularly proud of.  SO, the tethered knife… To have a restaurant in an airport in a terminal (read passed security) is a bit if a trial.  The knives have to be checked and recorded.  Once security clears them for use in the restaurant, they must remain tethered at all times.  A HUGE fine is incurred if a knife is found not to be tethered.  This means that chefs can’t bring their own knives in with them each day.  When cutting, chefs cannot move beyond the radius of the tethered knife.  The bartender who showed me his knife can only cut lemons and limes in that one spot.  And for this bit of knowledge, I raise my Cole Porter:Day to the Menu Project.


Stephanie Jane Carter is a writer and editor at SoFAB.  To learn more about the Menu Project, visit the website,

Recipe: Avocado Vichyssoise

August 6, 2010
Avocado Vichyssoise

Avocado Vichyssoise

by Stephanie Jane Carter

“But in summer, when the soup seemed to be too hot, we asked for milk for which to cool it.  Many years later, it was this inspiration to make the soup which I have named Creme Vichyssoise.” (Louis Diat 1885-1957)

When the French-born chef, Louis Diat, was the chef at the Ritz Carlton in New York, he remembered a pureed potato soup served to him by his mother in his hometown, a village near Vichy in France.  Served hot, he often asked for milk to cool the soup.  From this concept, Diat created one of our most well-known soups, cold and refreshing Vichyssoise.

In this version, we have added another item that says summer to us, the avocado.  We find the flavor refreshing and surprising and we hope you do too.

Avocado Vichyssoise

Serves 6

2 leeks, trimmed, washed, and thinly sliced*

1/8 cup unsalted butter

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

6 cups water

1 bouquet garni (2-3 sprigs parsley, 1 sprig thyme, 1 bay leaf)

Salt, to taste

3 medium avocados, peeled and pitted

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 cup Creme Fraiche

1/4 cup chopped chives

1.  Sweat the leeks in the butter and a pinch of salt.  Allow them to soften without developing color.

2.  Add the potatoes and the water and another sprinkling of salt.

3.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.

4.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

5.  Remove the bouquet garni and puree the soup.

6.  Let soup chill thoroughly.

7.  Add the avocados to the soup and puree until smooth.

8.  Just before serving, add the lime juice and stir to incorporate.

9.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chives.

*Normally, with a vichyssoise, one would only use the white parts of the leeks so that the soup could remain white.  However, this is not necessary in this version since the end product is green due to the addition of the avocados.

Letter from the Editor: June 2010

June 9, 2010

This summer, words like tophat, topkill, junk shot, and phrases like a giant set of shears have become commonplace in the vocabularies of Gulf Coast residents.  BP can’t agree with anyone on the definition of plume and we are all worried about our seafood industries and coastline.  As we wonder what the effects of the spill will be on our marshlands that protect us from hurricanes, we brace for what experts predict to be a very active hurricane season.  Much of the current media attention focuses on the environmental and economic impact of the spill.  The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is building a webpage to act as a clearinghouse for researchers who are investigating the cultural impact of this spill.  SoFAB is aware that many academics and researchers have undertaken individualized efforts to collect such cultural data, and the goal of the online clearinghouse will be to streamline research efforts by offering a forum where one may post overviews of research projects, as well as project locations and logistics. By eliminating overlap, we hope to expand Gulf collection efforts in a meaningful way. If one is interested in adding a research initiative to the clearinghouse, please contact SoFAB President Liz Williams via email, at

We are also sponsoring the 4-14 Festival in Dijon, France, which will highlight New Orleans cooking and Louisiana seafood.  As Louisiana tries to combat the misconceptions that local fishing has stopped and that the existing seafood is unsafe to eat, we are excited to know that the French will be eating Louisiana seafood at the festival this summer.

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is looking forward to a productive and exciting summer, filled with collecting oil spill cultural data, cooking in France, and working with our fabulous summer interns from Tulane, Yale, and Duke.  In celebration of our 2nd birthday, we are giving you a present when you renew your membership (or sign up for the first time).  Click here.

Have a wonderful summer!

Stephanie Jane Carter

stephanie AT southernfood DOT org

Hurricanes: Here’s to Drinking Them and Not Enduring Them

June 8, 2010

by Stephanie Jane Carter

With experts predicting an active hurricane season for 2010, it seems an appropriate time to toast to one filled with drinking them, but not enduring them.

The Hurricane Cocktail was popularized by Pat O’Brien, who served it in glasses that were shaped like hurricane lamps.  “Pat O” actually trademarked the glasses in 1941.   Today’s hurricane is most often made with a pink powder mix, but the original one was a delicious concoction of fruit juices, rum, and Galliano.  The difference between the two is like the difference between fresh fruit juice and Kool-Aid.  While there are times that we are in the mood for Kool-Aid, it would be a shame to never have the real thing.

If you are interested in learning more about the Hurricane, stop by the Southern Food and Beverage Museum to see the special exhibit on the cocktail.  For more information, visit the website,


1 ounce Meyer’s Dark Rum

1 ounce Ronrico Silver, or other light rum

1/2 ounce Galliano

2 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice

2 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice

1 ounce passion fruit nectar

Dash of Angostura Bitters

Tropical fruit for garnish, if desired

Put the light and dark rums, fruit juices, bitters, and Galliano in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake.  Strain into a 26 ounce hurricane glass filled with ice.  Garnish with tropical fruit, if desired.

Letter from the Editor

May 11, 2010

photo by David Gallent

Dear Friends,

Just a few months ago, the Gulf Coast oyster industry was threatened with a proposed oyster ban.  It has been a trying month for the entire Gulf Coast seafood industry as the BP oil spill creeps closer to the coast.  During this time, it is important that we support our Gulf Coast fisherman.  Much seafood remains safe to eat and many seafood organizations encourage us to continue buying this Gulf Coast Seafood.  Click here to find out the oil spill forecast, what fisherman are doing, and more, visit the Louisiana Seafood Promotion Board.  Also, visit the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to see closures and to get information about the oil spill response.

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum has some excellent information on the history of the Louisiana seafood industry in the Leah Chase Louisiana Gallery.  Please check it out during your visit!

To learn more, visit our beautiful, new, updated website at

Cheers, ya’ll!

Stephanie Jane Carter

stephanie AT southernfood DOT org

Editor’s Letter: April 2010

April 1, 2010

Many of you have noticed and commented that, like Spring, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum is ALWAYS growing.  Every time I walk through the museum, there are new artifacts, new exhibits, new things to learn and celebrate.  Of course the ways to learn and celebrate go farther than the exhibits in the museum.  As you will read in Liz Williams’ Director’s Desk Update, April is as jam-packed with events, cooking demos, lectures, symposiums, parties, as herb gardens will be with parsley, dill, tarragon, thyme, sage, cilantro, lavender, chamomile, and arugula this month.  On the topic of April gardening, I’ll be representing the Southern Food and Beverage Museum at the Historic Virginia Garden Week tour this month.  I’ll be at Randleston Farm on April 24 and 25.  I’d be delighted  to know if you plan on being there.

In March, I had the opportunity to talk about the Teen Culinary Club with Chef Tenney Flynn, Chef at GW Fins Restaurant, and Janee’ Taylor, President of the Teen Culinary Club at SoFAB, on the WWL-TV Morning Show.  We are completing our first year of the program and it was great to be able to tell everyone a little bit about what we’ve been doing.  Our final meeting of this school year will be in April and we hope to have many more teens join us.  We are in the planning stages of the 2010-2011 school year program and we look forward to hearing from anyone who may want to participate as a sponsor or presenter.  For information, email me.  stephanieATsouthernfoodDOTorg.  The Teen Culinary Club is for high school students with a strong interest in food and students who are interested in exploring a career in the food industry.

On that note, we would like to congratulate some wonderful people who already have outstanding careers in the food industry…

Congratulations to our current and former board members on their nominations for the James Beard 2010 Awards!
John Besh (Best American Cooking Cookbook: My New Orleans)
David Guas (Best Baking and Dessert Cookbook: DamGoodSweet)
Linton Hopkins (Best Chef in the Southeast: Restaurant Eugene)
Jessica Harris (Who’s Who of Food and Beverage In America Inductee)
Leah Chase  (Who’s Who of Food and Beverage In America Inductee)

And Congratulations to all of our supporters who have appeared or helped the museum in some way for their 2010 James Beard nominations!
Susan Spicer (Who’s Who of Food and Beverage In America Inductee)
Jonathan Gold (Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review and
Best Writing on Spirits, Wine, or Beer)
Donald Link (Best American Cooking Cookbook: Real Cajun with Paula Disbrowe)
Emeril Lagasse (Best Television Special: Emeril Green: Emeril’s
Culinary Adventure: Napa)
John T. Edge (M.F.K. Fisher Distinguised Writing Award: Article in The
Oxford American)
Matt and Ted Lee (Best American Cooking Cookbook: The Lee Bros.)

Cheers, Ya’ll,

Stephanie Jane Carter

Collections Update: Alberta’s Oyster

March 17, 2010

By Chris Smith

photo by Stephanie Jane Carter

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum’s case devoted to artifacts from the World’s Fair has a new item – an artificial oyster made by a local artist that was a precursor to today’s fake food industry.

The oyster is on loan from the artist, Alberta Lewis, a ceramist who lives at Sebastopol Plantation in St. Bernard Parish. The shell is real – a Louisiana oyster selected by Lewis herself for its unique beauty. But the “meat” of the oyster was Lewis’ own creation, a clay representation of the mollusk rendered in brown, black, taupe, green and even blue.

“The color was the big challenge,” she recalls. “It had to look natural and give a representational idea of what an oyster looked like to all of the people who would see it in New York.”

Yes, New York but more specifically the borough of Queens, the site of the 1964 World’s Fair, which predated the New Orleans World’s Fair by exactly two decades. The fair’s theme was “Peace Through Understanding,” dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe.” The fair featured 140 pavilions on 646 acres.

One of those pavilions was created by the state of Louisiana which recreated New Orleans’ Bourbon Street inside its pavilion complete with jazz musicians that performed in the restaurants that lined the street. Another attraction was the Gas Pavilion, which included a “Theatre of Food” with demonstrations by chefs from all over the world.

At one of these pavilions, Lewis does not remember which one, demonstrators from the New Orleans Public Service Incorporated (NOPSI) were showcasing a classic local creation, Oysters Rockefeller, a huge hit at the fair.

The oysters were a huge hit with the people who watched NOPSI demonstrators prepare them. However, they oysters had become a significant issue for food inspectors in New York. In order to make the dish, oysters were shipped regularly from New Orleans and were prepared for cooking. According to Lewis, the food inspectors wanted to put warning signs alongside the dish. Also, it was expensive to constantly ship oysters to New York for the demonstrations.

The solution was to create fake oysters that looked as realistic as possible. The NOPSI demonstrators could then place the oyster on the shell, prepare the spinach and cheese concoction to cover the oyster, and then pop the dish in to the oven. Because the fake oysters were made of porcelain, they could withstand the heat of the oven and could be washed after each demonstration.

“I was contacted by an acquaintance who knew I worked in clay and who wanted to know if I could make ceramic oysters,” she recalls. “My challenge was to make a dozen oysters that looked like real oysters. The oyster shells were easy. The meat was the tough part.”

Lewis began to experiment, mixing different color combinations into her clay, and creating different glazes that would replicate the watery sheen of a freshly opened oyster.

“The color had to be natural,” she said. “I had to capture the translucency of an oyster. It couldn’t look dry; it needed to look fresh. The eye, where the oyster is attached to the shell, had to look realistic and not too opaque. The edges needed to have darker edges in order to look realistic. I ended up using several different methodologies until I got something that worked.”

It didn’t take her long to create a suitable oyster. When she thought she had the right formula, she made 12 of the faux oysters and packed them off to New York. “They were accepted and I was paid for my work. That was the last I heard from them.”

But she kept one of the extra replicas, the piece that is now on loan to the museum. After almost 50 years, it remains as fresh and translucent as the day Lewis created it, making one wonder why she didn’t try to create a pearl.

Book Review: The P & J Oyster Cookbook

March 17, 2010

By Stephanie Jane Carter

By Kit Wohl and the Sunseri Family
224 pp.  10 x 10  100 color photos  Index

Do you love the Oyster Roast at Cochon?  I have that recipe.  Would you like to know how Dickie Brennan, the man behind the Bourbon House, shoots oysters?  I can tell you.  Are you curious how the Sunseri family of the 130 year-old P&J Oyster Company, prepares oysters?  They must know how, right?  I have 28 of their recipes and they definitely know how to prepare oysters.  If you have a favorite oyster dish at a restaurant in New Orleans, there is a very good chance the recipe is in the P&J Oyster Cookbook, by Kit Wohl and the Sunseri Family.  The P&J Oyster Cookbook celebrates the venerable, salty, fatty, delicious Gulf Coast oyster and appears to define the P&J Oyster family and community as the entire P&J oyster-loving community, which appears to be the entire New Orleans community.  This is evidenced in the 220 glossy pages of oyster recipes from journalists, cookbook authors, “cheerful souls,” Sunseri family members, and over 50 New Orleans varsity level chefs and restaurateurs.  The ambition it took to compile all of these recipes was an admirable and successful feat by Kit Wohl.

For more than 130 years, the P&J Oyster Company, the oldest business of its kind in the United States, has been cultivating, harvesting, and distributing fresh Gulf Coast oysters.  The company, located at the corner of North Rampart and Toulouse in the French Quarter, has been lovingly embraced by the surrounding community for as long as it has been open.  According to the book, Chef Leah Chase, the “Queen of Creole Cuisine,” has never allowed any other oyster in her kitchen.  GW Fins, which flies seafood in from all over the world, only uses the local P&J oyster.  If the shrimp-dish naming scene in Forrest Gump were to be filmed using this delicious bivalve instead of shrimp, this is the book they would want to have on hand.  The photography in the book is oddly charming, presenting fuzzy oyster delicacies retreating and emerging from clean, white space.  The book is divided into the following chapters and every chapter is packed with enticing recipes.

Raw – featuring a recipe for raw oysters on the half shell with no less than three paragraphs of instruction, proving the seriousness with which this subject is treated.  It moves on to other raw preparations (oysters with granités, oyster shooters, oyster shooters with granités, etc)

Grilled – which includes Cochon’s delicious Roasted Oysters with Crushed Herbs, Garlic, and Chiles.

Fried – featuring 19 ways to fry them.

Baked – featuring the classic Rockefeller which was originally made with P&J Oysters, Oyster Biscuit Pudding from Café Adelaide, and 23 other ways to bake them

Soups, Stews, and Gumbos – Like Rockefeller?  Try the Rockefeller Bisque in this section.

Casseroles, Pastas, and Pies –  including GW Fins’ savory Oyster and Mushroom Tart that Chef Flynn once demonstrated at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.  Sal Sunseri, of P&J Oysters, accompanied him and shucked oysters.  Thanks to Sal, we all also know the proper way to eat an oyster on the half shell (slurp it out from above so that you get all of the juices and none of the grit from the shell)

Gratins, Stuffings, and Dressings – Oysters Marie Laveau, P&J’s Oyster, Sausage, and Pecan Dressing, and others

Stocks, Sauces, and Seasonings – to accompany some of the dishes

There are so many wonderful recipes in this book that I really hate to say anything critical about it.  So much of the New Orleans community contributed valuable insight into how to prepare the venerable bivalve and the book could have been perfect.

That said, it is a shame that that community did not include an editor.  It is clear that the recipes in this book were written by many different people with different vocabularies and different expectations of the audience’s cooking ability.  One example of the sloppy editing is found in the confounding recipe for a “Glace de Viande with Veal” that calls for either beef bones or veal.  (Really? How does that work exactly?)  The recipe also includes 12 other ingredients and without instruction on what to do with them.  There are a few other editorial lapses, but none that can’t be noticed without reading the recipe before you start cooking (which a good cook does anyway).

Even with the editorial shortfalls, the P&J Oyster Cookbook remains a dedicated, powerful, delicious, and ultimately sublime tribute to an institution and product that helps define and enhance New Orleans culture.  This book, full of 93 oyster recipes, is still wonderful.  These chefs, cheerful souls, and writers show that we consider P&J Company our family too.  At any rate, I love this cookbook and I think you should have it.  Just grab a red pen and be ready to edit it yourself.

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum has a limited number of autographed copies of the P&J Oyster Cookbook for sale.  They are available by calling 504-569-0405.

*Thank God.  No Gulf Coast oyster ban.

Letter from the Editor: November 2009

November 12, 2009

I can’t say that visions of sugar plums are dancing in my head quite yet (it is only November) but with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, it does seem that desserts are on many people’s minds and plates.  They are certainly permeating our activities at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum lately.  NOLA Pastry, a philanthropic group of professional pastry chefs, has been holding its organizational meetings at SoFAB.  Plans are set for David Guas’ dessert party at SoFAB, celebrating the release of his new book, DamGoodSweet.  The Big Read NOLA, sponsored by the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, just held a cake and pie contest.  Later this month, our Culinary Club for Teens will enjoy a special presentation by Robert Plouffe, the Executive Pastry Chef for the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans.  The human tendency toward sweet tastes began with fruit.  As the sweet satsumas begin to ripen, DISH book club marks the season with a book about citrus, Oranges. Of even bigger note, the book club will now meet in locations around town that seem relevant to the featured book.  This month’s meeting takes place at La Playa with Greg Surrey of Surrey’s Juice Bar.   So, in honor of the sweet season, we celebrate sweet stuff in this issue of the SoFAB Monthly.


Send us your favorite family dessert recipe!  stephanie (AT) southernfood (DOT) org


Stephanie Jane Carter, Editor